VCU Community Engagement News

Center for Community Engagement and Impact

This past December, VCU News started a series of stories featuring VCU students, graduates, faculty and staff “who have boldly chosen to change something in their lives.” Joe Cates, who has been a chef, a writer, and a musician on his way to becoming a professor who regularly teaches service-learning classes, was a natural choice for this series.

More central to Cates’ story about starting over than his multiple professions is his stint in rehab precipitated by an intervention by friends and family. “I found my way back to teaching and service learning after getting involved with the recovery community,” he said.

Cates now works as a member of the Department of Focused Inquiry, which offers small, seminar-style class for first- and second-year students as part of VCU’s core curriculum. Cates has taught UNIV 111-112: Focused Inquiry I &II since Fall ‘07.  He also teaches UNIV 211: Food For Thought, a service learning course that explores issues of food security in the local community. 

Joe Cates, Assistant Professor in the Department of Focused Inquiry

Cates has voiced his support of service-learning through presentations before the VA Engage Annual Meeting and International Association for Research on Service Learning and Community Engagement. Among the community partners Cates’s classes have worked with are the Nino Garden project where VCU students are constructing a community garden at Carver Elementary to help fight food insecurity and the Cornerstone Community Farm project, an economic and agricultural collaboration that supports neighborhood vitality through sustainable food production, job creation, and environmental stewardship.

Please read the full story in VCU News as well as other stories in the “Starting Over” series on member of the VCU community like student success adviser Tom Chavous and hospital chaplain Hikisha Harris.

Categories CEI News, Service-Learning